You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Andrew Wyeth,

Later he told me he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden. Faraway windows, opaque and unreadable. Ruts in the spiky grass made by an invisible vehicle, leading nowhere. Dishwater sky.

People think the painting is a portrait, but it isn’t. Not really. He wasn’t even in the field; he conjured it from a room in the house, an entirely different angle. He removed rocks and trees and outbuildings. The scale of the barn is wrong. And I am not that frail young thing, but a middle-aged spinster. It’s not my body, really, and maybe not even my head.

He did get one thing right: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I’ve spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me. (There are many ways to be crippled, I’ve learned over the years, many forms of paralysis.) My ancestors fled to Maine from Salem, but like anyone who tries to run away from the past, they brought it with them. Something inexorable seeds itself in the place of your origin. You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Who are you, Christina Olson? he asked me once.

Nobody had ever asked me that. I had to think about it for a while.

~ Christina Baker Kline, from Prologue of “A Piece of the World: A Novel


Art: Christina’s World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth, and one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (3 May 1893 – 27 January 1968). She is likely to have suffered from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a genetic polyneuropathy. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house. Wyeth had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subjects of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model—Wyeth’s wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting.[4] Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work. (Source: Wiki)

Miracle. All of it.

Each fork in the road: the choice to stay home, to go out, to catch the flight, or cancel it, to take the 1 train, to stop at the bar on the corner. The chance encounters, split-second decisions that make the design — that are the design. […] Change even one moment, the whole thing unravels. The narrative thread doesn’t stretch in a line from end to end, but rather, spools and unspools, loops around and returns again and again to the same spot. Come closer now and listen. Be thankful for all of it. […] A coup de foudre: a bolt of lightening. You would not have your bright and sunny boy. There is no other life than this. You would not have stumbled into the vastly imperfect, beautiful, impossible present.

~ Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage


Notes:

  • Credits: Photo by Atsushi Korome (via mennyfox55). Quote: Brainpickings
  • Post Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Running. 10, On Great Friday.

Zero Interest. Not on my bucket list. Not sure what possessed me to agree to it.” A colleague at work convinced her to sign up for the SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park at the end of the month.

“Rachel, you aren’t a runner. You’ve never run. Do you realize how far that is?”

“Dad, I can always count on you for encouragement. You’re always right there for me.”

So, I watch. Fully expecting her to pull the rip cord and bail.

She’s following the recommended training regimen for newbies. I follow from the shadows as her notifications ping my smart watch, signaling completion of her treadmill runs, her outdoor runs, her elliptical sessions. Her pace: consistently sub 9-minute miles.

Disbelief. [Read more…]

Dinner (Together)

Q: In your memoir The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, you talk about the importance of having dinner as a family, having everyone together to discuss the issues of the day.

Jacques Pépin: For me, the kitchen is the center of the house. When a kid comes back from school, you sit down in that kitchen and you do your homework. You hear the voice of your mother, your father, you hear the clink of pots and pans, you see the ingredients, the smells. All of that will stay with you the rest of your life. You know, that becomes very important. For a child just home from school, the kitchen is a great place to be.

~ Don’t miss full interview @ GQ.com: Jacques Pépin  (April 11, 2017)


Sources: Quote – Thank you Harvey @ The Happy Curmudgeon. Photo: L.A. Times

This is not a failure of policy but a failure of love.

Peggy Noonan, excerpts from wsj.com: What’s Become of the American Dream? Part of the problem is definitional. It isn’t just about houses, cars and material prosperity:

I want to think aloud about the American dream. People have been saying for a while that it’s dead. It’s not, but it needs strengthening.[…]

The American dream was about aspiration and the possibility that, with dedication and focus, it could be fulfilled. But the American dream was not about material things—houses, cars, a guarantee of future increase. That’s the construction we put on it now. It’s wrong. A big house could be the product of the dream, if that’s what you wanted, but the house itself was not the dream. You could, acting on your vision of the dream, read, learn, hold a modest job and rent a home, but at town council meetings you could stand, lead with wisdom and knowledge, and become a figure of local respect. Maybe the respect was your dream…

How did we get the definition mixed up?

I think part of the answer is: Grandpa. He’d sit on the front stoop in Levittown in the 1950s. A sunny day, the kids are tripping by, there’s a tree in the yard and bikes on the street and a car in the front. He was born in Sicily or Donegal or Dubrovnik, he came here with one change of clothes tied in a cloth and slung on his back, he didn’t even speak English, and now look—his grandkids with the bikes. “This is the American dream,” he says. And the kids, listening, looked around, saw the houses and the car, and thought: He means the American dream is things…But that of course is not what Grandpa meant. He meant: I started with nothing and this place let me and mine rise. The American dream was not only about materialism, but material things could be, and often were, its fruits.[…] [Read more…]

But what is Hope?

“A Somali girl displaced by drought wears a pair of mock spectacles cut out from a cardboard box as she carries her brother around a camp just outside of Mogadishu. Somalia’s drought is threatening three million lives.”


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “But what is Hope? Nothing but the paint on the face of Existence.” by Lord Byron
  • Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh, AP, wsj.com, March 28, 2017

Answering Machine ’93 (23 sec)

Cameron Hicks: “This was my family’s outgoing message on our answering machine from 1993 up until we got rid of our land line a few years ago. My dad wanted to save the recording of my sister, Jodie, and I as kids so he digitized it and gave it to us. I decided to animate to the recording and give it to Jodie as a birthday present. It wound up taking longer to finish than I expected so it became a Christmas present. I missed that deadline too. Nevertheless, it’s dedicated to her.”

Cam – We’re not home right now, but we’ll be back real soon.
Dad – Right, so leave your name and number and we’ll get back to ya. Thanks for calling!
Jodie – I wanna talk!
Dad – Okay.
Jodie – Goodnight.

Dinner! Let’s eat together…

Stick with this to the finish…


Thank you Susan

Gaga, Super Lady. That’s my truth.

I wasn’t a fan of Lady Gaga’s earlier music, all too much for me. But this Lady is something special. Don’t miss this CBS Sunday Morning interview. Don’t quit on this early. (Fascinating throughout but it starts getting most interesting at 4:30). Here’s an excerpt:

“If this were all to go away tomorrow, all the big success, I would still be very happy…the reason that I’m here at all is because of my relationship with my family and their encouragement of me to be a musician, and to work hard. So, as long as I stay there, in that space, I can do anything. That’s my truth… Making your Dad happy is, especially for an Italian Catholic girl, it feels really good…And I feel that today. All the awards in the world, you can get in all the nightclubs, they’ll send you the nicest clothes, there’s nothing better than walking in your Dad’s restaurant and seeing a smile on his face, and knowing that your Mom, Dad and Sister are real proud of you and you haven’t lost touch of who you are. That for me is real success.”

“Lady Gaga is the Super Bowl halftime show expected to be watched by more than 100 million television viewers. She’s been planning for this event since she was four years old. Gaga, 30, never lip-syncs or uses backing tracks for her vocals, which has become common for high-profile events. Last year, when she belted out a blistering rendition of the national anthem at Super Bowl 50, CBS wanted an emergency backing track just in case. Gaga refused.” (Source: wsj.com)


See related post: Gaga

Happiness is…

hug-tree

Fall.
Naps.
Miami.
Spring.
Canada.
M*A*S*H.
Full moon.
Saturdays.
Snow Days.
Hot shower.
Maple trees.
Warm winds.
Orange Jello.
Family Dinner.
Blog followers.
House Finches.
Fleetwood Mac.
Morning Papers.
Haruki Murakami.
Zeke’s waggy tail.
Shiny black shoes.
Anything àla Mode.
Buttered Spaghetti.
Finishing a long run.
CBS Sunday Morning.
Netflix binge watching.
Milk Chocolate with nuts.
Rachel & Eric coming home.

~ DK


Photo: via Hidden Sanctuary

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